Social work

Social workers work with individuals and families to help improve outcomes in their lives. This may be helping to protect vulnerable people from harm or abuse or supporting people to live independently. Social workers support people, act as advocates and direct people to the services they may require. Social workers often work in multi-disciplinary teams alongside health and education professionals.

Routes to qualification

Social work is a graduate profession. Entrants need to take either a three year undergraduate degree, a two year postgraduate degree or enter one of the available work-based postgraduate routes.

Degree route

If you wish to train as a social worker but are unsure about which particular service user group you may wish to specialise in working with, it may be best to consider training via a traditional University course which are more generic in nature than the more specialised, leadership focused employer based routes.

Applications for both undergraduate and postgraduate Social Work courses must be made via UCAS. All courses must be accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

NHS Bursaries tend to be reviewed every year, be sure to check the website for the latest information.

  • Social Work Masters course at Manchester University The MA Social Work course at the University of Manchester is a generic course that will provide you with a combination of teaching and practice placements enabling you to gain the knowledge and skills to take up challenging and stimulating social work posts in a variety of fields within the statutory, voluntary and private sectors. On successful completion of the course you will be eligible to apply to register as a qualified social worker with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Step up to Social Work

Step Up to Social Work is an intense work-based training route intended for career changers. It enables trainees to study towards a masters in Social Work in 14 months whilst working.


Frontline is a two year scheme to recruit and train children’s social workers. It is focused on high potential graduates, career changers and those in line for a 2:1 or First degree with 300 UCAS points.

Frontline consists of:

  • A five week intensive summer institute residential at the beginning of the course.
  • Two years hands-on work in a local authority under a consultant social worker who will co-work cases with the trainees.
  • In the first year, input from a leading university leading to a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work and an opportunity to go on to a Master’s degree in the second year.
  • Leadership training.
  • A salary comparable with a competitive training bursary in year one and a full salaried local authority social worker post in year two.

Think Ahead – Mental Health Social Work Programme for Graduates and Career Changers

A two-year fast-track scheme for exceptional graduates and career-changers to become mental health social workers.

How the programme works

  • Intensive residential learning programme for four to six weeks over the summer.
  • In September, participants join the Local Authority or NHS Mental Health Trust where they will work.
  • In their first year, participants work in multi-disciplinary teams in a variety of services, focused on adult mental health but with a range of additional experiences.
  • In their second year, participants are employed by their Local Authority or Trust as newly qualified social workers.
  • Their academic study culminates in a master’s degree in social work.
  • On completing the programme, participants will be well-placed to secure a permanent role in social work, and to pursue a leadership career in any field.

Finding work